College juniors and seniors who are looking for spring and summer internships may need to consider looking for remote opportunities. A recent study revealed that 89% of college students preferred a virtual internship experience to having their internship cancelled. Searching, applying and securing a remote internship is the first step to success. But maintaining your virtual internship is the second step. Read below to discover the 3 keys to creating a successful virtual internship experience.
First, students need to hold themselves accountable for internship projects and tasks without a supervisor standing close by. This is a great time to get organized and create routines and habits for your virtual work day. Technology can help students get organized, but students, don't be afraid to ask your supervisor for help. Supervisors appreciate interns who are self-reflective and aware of their strengths and weaknesses. So if you struggle with time management don't be afraid to put it out there and ask your supervisor for their advice and tools that work for them.
Second, students should schedule time to communicate with their supervisor - more than they would if working in-person. Incidental communication in the hallway or at the water cooler doesn't happen in remote settings so it's important to schedule regular check-ins. This can be challenging for college students who are used to professors or advisors arranging meetings. But students should take initiative and be proactive in arranging virtual meetings. In this case, the more the better!
Lastly, successful internships are a result of explicit, clear communication about internship expectations. Students, don't be afraid to ask what is expected of you and how you can demonstrate to your supervisor that you have achieved these goals. In her Business Insider article, Christine Cruzvergara tells employers and interns to "make the implicit, explicit." Virtual internships offer a lot of freedom to students but students then need to demonstrate that they have used this freedom effectively. Creating a detailed internship agreement that both student and supervisor sign is one way to begin clear communication. Then continue using this document throughout the internship as a way to check-in and monitor student progress as well as to be sure that students are receiving the experience and skills that they agreed to. When working in a virtual environment, structure is key. Students, you can also ask if your internship employer has a document or webpage with virtual internship expectations like the Target corporation. Clearly communicating student and supervisor expectations can provide the scaffold needed for a successful and meaningful internship experience.